Does State or Federal Law Require Me to Allow Employees Time Off of Work to Vote?

For most private employers, the answer is NO, there is no state or federal law requiring you to allow employees to miss work in order to vote in state or federal elections. 

vote clipart - Clip Art Library

Louisiana does have a state statute that generally prohibits employers with twenty or more employees from interfering with an employee’s ability to participate in politics. Specifically, LSA-R.S. 23:961 states that: 

Except as otherwise provided in R.S. 23:962, no employer having regularly in his employ twenty or more employees shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy forbidding or preventing any of his employees from engaging or participating in politics, or from becoming a candidate for public office. No such employer shall adopt or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy which will control, direct, or tend to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of his employees, nor coerce or influence, or attempt to coerce or influence any of his employees by means of threats of discharge or of loss of employment in case such employees should support or become affiliated with any particular political faction or organization, or participate in political activities of any nature or character. 

Any individual person violating the provisions of this Section shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both; and any firm, corporation or association violating the provisions of this Section shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars nor more than two thousand dollars. 

One “clever” employer recently asked if it could allow only those employees that it believed to belong to a certain political party off of work in order to vote next Tuesday. We explained that doing so could very possibly constitute a violation of LSA-R.S. 23: 962, in addition to creating an extremely bad optic for the business.

The bottom line: If early voting numbers are any indication, this will probably be one of the largest voter turn outs in modern history. Although employers have no legal obligation to allow employees off of work in order to vote, realistically many employees are going to miss some work to do so. It would be a good idea to decide how you are going to respond to those situations and to inform your managers of the company voting policy. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where workers are allowed time off to vote depending upon their perceived political affiliation.

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